Five Not So Basic Books to Put on Your Quarantine Reading List

If you’re one of the millions of people doing your part to prevent the spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19, then your days might be starting to feel a little boring…okay, very boring. So, to help you fight those quarantine blues, here’s a not-so-basic reading list courtesy of your favorite English major.

  1. 1. Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado

    This book is a beautiful and powerful collection of short stories detailing the modern feminine experience and the violence that can be associated with it. Machado’s eight short stories appeal to a variety of audiences, discussing topics ranging from the artistry of writing a novel to living as a queer woman. My personal favorite was ‘Especially Heinous: 272 Views of Law and Order SVU,’ an interesting and raw take on a popular, yet gruesome TV show. Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award and a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction this book is undoubtedly a worthwhile page-turner. You can purchase the book here from Amazon. 

  2. 2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain

    Through the sources of case studies, research, and personal testimony author, lawyer, and Harvard grad Susan Cain empowers introverts to realize their potential in a world that values the qualities of extroversion. In detailing her success as a corporate lawyer, a realm dominated by loud voices, Cain provides hope to fellow introverts and broadens the horizons of those who perceive their soft-spoken nature to be a weakness. Not your typical ‘self-help’ book, Quiet has the power to be life-changing, or at least offer a fresh perspective. You can purchase the book on Amazon, watch her TED talk, or read more about the ‘Quiet Revolution’ on her website.

  3. 3. Days and Nights of Love and War, Eduardo Galeano

    In a move that would largely be considered the onset of his political writing career, Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano published Days and Nights of Love and War as a biographical tribute to an era of death and discord. To call this book a biographical ‘account’ of the atrocities committed by various South American dictatorial governments during the 1960s and ’70s, is simply an understatement. Galeano speaks to the suffering of entire countries, mourns the loss of revolutionary changemakers, and gives a voice to the countless ‘disappeared’ persons. In a series of poignant vignettes, he conveys what simply could not be, and should not be, summarized by a history book. You can buy the book here from Amazon

  4. 4. The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russel

    If you love science fiction that feels realistic, this book is for you. Russel’s award-winning novel follows a cast of Jesuits, linguists, and scientists through the discovery and exploration of an alien world. Fraught with conflict, beauty, and deep reflection, this book is not only set to challenge the history and rules of society, but human nature as a whole. On top of all that, a mystery centers the book on the narration of Emilio Sandoz, a priest tasked with explaining what became of the exploration as well as how his hands were so ornately, yet brutally destroyed. Purchase the book here on Amazon. 

  5. 5. Belinda, Maria Edgeworth

    Why read Jane Austen when you can read a book that allegedly inspired the heroines of her many ‘society’ novels? First published in 1801, Belinda captures all the high society drama and witty dialogues you could ever want from a victorian era novel. Notably, though, Belinda seems to defy historical expectations by opting to center itself on the friendship of two female characters, Belinda and Lady Delacour, as they support each other in growth and transition, rather than the usual goal of finding Belinda a wealthy husband. The first and second editions of the novel also include an interracial marriage which, later removed by an editor, would have been shockingly radical for the time period. Sure this novel has many a juicy proposal, but it also interestingly defies era-appropriate gender roles and is a tale of bonding, healing, and moral lessons rather than that of romance. Buy the book here from Amazon.